Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS – The search for a New Orleans man who has been missing for a week is apparently over after a private search team from Texas said it believes it has located the body of James Dugan.
“I truly believe that he’s caught up in debris down there,” said EquuSearch founder Tim Miller. “It’s really hard to tell because there’s so much stuff that’s just intertwined.”
A dive team will go into the Mississippi River near the pier on Alvar and Chartres to try to retrieve the body, which is underneath the collapsed pier, among wood and concrete.
The discovery ends a week of searching for Dugan after he and a female friend went into the water after venturing out on the pier that collapsed.
The woman made her way out of the water, but it took several days for the water to be searched by authorities, angering friends and family.
“There’s the fact that there needed to be a Facebook group created before the NOPD actually took this case seriously,” said Kara Larson, Dugan’s friend.
Friends began searching all of Dugan’s bars and hangouts, finding only his dog at home, uncared for.
Tuesday they gathered on the riverfront as the search went on – consoling each other and sharing stories of James with his mother, who came down from New Orleans.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience,” said Eleanor Dugan. “The people of New Orleans have been marvelous.”
“We got comments that the Coast Guard had already done a helicopter search, which ended up not being true,” said Sarah Dunn, Dugan’s friend. “The Harbor Patrol told us that the NOPD had all control and that they couldn’t do anything and the NOPD told us the Harbor Patrol had control and they couldn’t do anything.”
“We were contacted on Wednesday afternoon and we certainly took appropriate action that we believe was necessary,” said NOPD Deputy Superintendent Marlon Defillo.
Friends said they alerted police a day and a half after he disappeared and that they found the female friend.
“The last time she had seen him and they had been drunk on a pier when it collapsed and she got to shore and she thought he had gotten to shore as well and she had apparently been trying to find him,” said Eve Crawford.
Dugan’s mother said she has talked to the young lady and said the woman is “extremely traumatized” by the whole ordeal.